Bottom line: It is understandable why the Honda CR-V has been a top seller since its introduction in 1995, just as it is plain to see why the 2012 predecessor version will join the ranks of those popular models. Honda has figured out what people want in those compact, wagon-like vehicles and has wrapped it up in a neat, reliable, relatively affordable package and given it to them.
Ride, acceleration and handling: The CR-V with navigation and all-wheel drive gets good marks in all three. I could have used extra power on the mountain roads. But this four-cylinder wagon did okay.
Head-turning quotient: It is royal vanilla — plain, but tasteful.
Body style/layout: The 2012 Honda CR-V is a compact, front-engine wagon/crossover-utility vehicle with four side doors and a rear hatch. It uses Honda’s “ACE” body structure, which is designed to absorb as much crash energy as possible before transferring any of it to the passenger cabin. It is available with front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive in three basic trim levels — X, EX and EX-l.
Engine/transmission: The CR-V comes with a standard 2.4-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve lift and timing (185 horsepower, 163 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is linked to a five-speed automatic transmission.
Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 37.2 cubic feet. It increases to 70.9 cubic feet with rear seats folded. The CR-V can be outfitted to tow 1,500 pounds. The fuel tank holds 15.3 gallons; regular gasoline is recommended.
Mileage: Real-world mileage with varying cargo and passenger loads averaged 19 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway. Honda claims an ideal mileage of 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.
Safety: Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; side and head air bags; and Honda patented “ACE” body construction for enhanced crash protection.
Price: The base price on the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L with navigation and all-wheel drive is $29,795. Estimated dealer’s invoice price on the 2012 model is $27,000. Price as tested with $810 destination charge is $30,605. Estimated dealer’s price as tested is $27,900. The CR-V is a high-demand vehicle. Some dealers will charge premiums. Comparison-shop with Toyota Rav-4, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape and Hyundai Santa Fe.